With less than three weeks to go before the 2017 NFL Draft, here are the five most significant San Francisco 49ers rumors you need to know.
It’s that time of year, the final few weeks before the NFL Draft arrives. It’s already been a very busy offseason for the rebuilding San Francisco 49ers, but it’s about to get even crazier once the 2017 NFL Draft kicks off on April 27.
Why? Well for one, this is a team in fluctuation which could find itself on a number of different paths based on the way the draft goes. It’ll also be new general John Lynch’s introduction to the draft, even though he’ll likely have plenty of guidance along the way. Finally, it’s an opportunity to see where this franchise is headed with 10 picks currently at their disposal.
The intrigue is only elevated when you consider the 49ers own the No. 2 overall pick. With so many roster needs still present, there are almost an infinite number of ways they could use the pick. Seeing how Lynch and Co. approach the first round could set the table for how this front office will handle itself throughout the draft.
Until that fateful Thursday arrives, though, all we do is speculate based on what we’re hearing from around the league. That’s why it only seems right to highlight some of the top 49ers draft rumors making the rounds right now.
So here are the five 49ers draft rumors you need to know with less than three weeks to go before the big day.
At this moment, offensive tackle isn’t exactly the 49ers’ biggest need. However, with Joe Staley getting up there in age and Trent Brown an uninspiring option on the right side, adding more talent to the mix wouldn’t be the worst idea.
So it makes sense why the 49ers are showing interest in Cam Robinson (via NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport). The Alabama blindside blocker was once seen as a potential Top 10 pick, but watched his star fade a bit in 2016 due to inconsistent play. Overall, though, he’s got the physical tools to be a long-term asset for San Francisco.
Robinson wouldn’t be an option for the 49ers in the first round, even if they traded down. However, with the second pick in the second round, San Francisco could conceivably watch him fall into their laps at that point. With their excessive draft ammunition, they could also trade back into the latter parts of the first round if they were intent on landing the Alabama product.
Robinson has the potential to be a starting offensive tackle in the NFL. Given some time to work on the finer points of his game, he could eventually flourish for the 49ers. If he returned to 2015 form quickly, the former Crimson Tide star could even push Brown for his job as a rookie.
We all know the 49ers desperately need help at quarterback. The only two arms currently on the roster are Brian Hoyer and Matt Barkley, a duo that simply isn’t going to get the job done during the 2017 season. Hoyer can’t stay healthy, and Barkley is an interception waiting to happen.
With no other feasible options on the open market, the 49ers must turn to the draft. However, up to this point, there hasn’t been much talk about them grabbing a gunslinger at No. 2. Mitch Trubisky would seem like the logical target at that point, but all signs seem to indicate San Francisco will either trade down or grab a defender at that spot.
They could, however, grab a quarterback at the top of the second round. In fact, they’ve shown significant interest in Texas Tech’s Patrick Mahomes, who many see as a fringe first-round talent. It just so happens Lynch was at the Red Raiders’ Pro Day checking out the intriguing young quarterback (via NFL Network’s Andrew Groover).
It would be risky for San Francisco to wait considering some folks feel Mahomes will be a Day 1 selection. However, if he is available at No. 34 overall, it wouldn’t be out of the question for the 49ers to pull the trigger and let him develop behind Hoyer until he’s ready.
The 49ers’ starting running back, Carlos Hyde, is one of the most talented young runners in the NFL. Unfortunately for the San Francisco ground game, the former second-round pick can’t seem to stay healthy. That has obviously taken a toll on their ability to field a balanced offense.
With Hyde draped with question marks, the 49ers could opt to add another starting-caliber back during the 2017 NFL Draft. There’s already been speculation they could target Leonard Fournette early on Day 1, but Dalvin Cook has also received his fair share of interest from San Francisco’s staff (via CSNBayArea’s Matt Maiocco).
Is it crazy to think the 49ers could add another potential starter to the mix? You would think so at first glance, but not necessarily when you consider Hyde’s health issues. Over the past two years, he’s missed 12 games due to injury. Adding Cook would give the team an excellent fallback option–much better than Tim Hightower could ever be.
Based on his declining stock, there’s a decent chance San Francisco could watch Cook fall into Day 2. If that’s the case, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them jump at the opportunity to give themselves an excellent No. 2 option behind the fragile Hyde.
2. 49ers Swapping First-Round Picks With Panthers?
The great thing about having the No. 2 pick in the NFL Draft is it gives you leverage. Especially when it comes to teams like the 49ers with so many glaring needs, they can essentially dangle that pick with the hopes of receiving a king’s ransom in return.
Thatmay exactly what San Francisco is doing right now. The latest rumors indicate a deal between them and the Carolina Panthers could be brewing (via Bleacher Report’s Matt Miller). The Panthers appear interested in moving up to secure the talents of Solomon Thomas or Leonard Fournette. While nothing is imminent, it’s quite a curious development.
With the No. 2 pick, the 49ers could get just about any player they wanted besides Myles Garrett. They also already own 10 total picks, which almost makes stockpiling picks via trade a redundancy. Then again, with how miserable this roster is, it wouldn’t hurt to clean house by bringing in a handful of fresh bodies.
Either way, don’t be surprised to see Lynch make a move before or on draft day. The 49ers appear to have a plan in place with their first-round pick, and can benefit even further by swapping picks with the Panthers and getting their man at No. 8.
There’s been a lot of talk the last few months in regards to who the 49ers are targeting in the first round. We’ve seen players such as Trubisky, Thomas and Marshon Lattimore mentioned, among others. However, the one guy who actually seems to be in their crosshairs is Reuben Foster.
Back in February, Vic Carucci claimed that Foster was a legitimate option for San Francisco at No. 2. While that’s a steep price to pay for an inside linebacker, it wasn’t a completely farfetched assertion. In fact, based on some draft boards out there, it made plenty of sense. Still, paying that price for the Alabama product seemed excessive.
On the last slide, though, we talked about a potential situation in which the 49ers moved down. If that scenario were to play out, it would leave them in a much better position to get their guy.
Here’s a snippet from Miller’s earlier mentioned piece:
Since the Panthers own the New England Patriots’ pick at No. 64 overall, they could throw that in and get the 49ers to make a deal they already want to make—moving back six spots and targeting linebacker Reuben Foster (Alabama).
Maybe Carucci was on to something. The 49ers missed Patrick Willis a season ago, and the injury-prone NaVarro Bowman is far from reliable. If this defense plans on turning things around after a miserable showing in 2016, maybe adding a potentially elite linebacker like Foster to the mix is the right way to go.